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[61] So after they had all wished themselves good sense and good health, Trimalchio looked at Niceros and said, “You used to be better company at a dinner; I do not know why you are dumb now, and do not utter a sound. Do please, to make me happy, tell us of your adventure.” Niceros was delighted by his friend's amiability and said, “May I never turn another penny if I am not ready to burst with joy at seeing you in such a good humour. Well, it shall be pure fun then, though I am afraid your clever friends will laugh at me. Still, let them; I will tell my story; what harm does a man's laugh do me? Being laughed at is more satisfactory than being sneered at.” So spake the hero,1 and began the following story:

“'While I was still a slave, we were living in a narrow street; the house now belongs to Gavilla. There it was God's will that I should fall in love with[p. 115] the wife of Terentius the inn-keeper; you remember her, Melissa of Tarentum, a pretty round thing. But I swear it was no base passion; I did not care about her in that way, but rather because she had a beautiful nature. If I asked her for anything it was never refused me; if she made twopence I had a penny; whatever I had I put into her pocket, and I was never taken in. Now one day her husband died on the estate.2 So I buckled on my shield and greaves, and schemed how to come at her: and as you know, one's friends turn up in tight places. My master happened to have gone to Capua to look after some silly business3 or other.”

1 See Virgil, Æneid II, 790.

2 Terentius was a slave managing the tavern for his master.

3 Lit., elegant trash.

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